Onimusha: Warlords Review (PS4)

Who in the world watch horror movies and play horror games during the pandemic? Isn’t real life like a horror story? Well that is okay, I won’t judge. My life was never normal to begin with so this is actually normal to me. I’m not phased by the pandemic that much. Welcome to the club, world.

I want to do something a bit different for this blog post, why? No one seems to enjoy reading critical essays beside weirdos like me. So I will talk about games casually and show off my gaming skills: I mean my average gaming skills.

I completed Onimusha: Warlords on easy mode and got a B score. Not so bad for playing the game blindly. Now I know how to beat game faster as I know what to expect. Going to attempt to beat game in 3 hours so I can get a shiny trophy. I’m playing on normal mode without consuming any medicine or herbs. Sounds like a challenge? For me it is–that is why I didn’t mind how short the game is. Typically, I play game twice anyway. One for the story, and two for the gameplay.

One thing that drew me into games in the first place was actually the artistic nature of the game. Onimusha:Warlords is charmingly beautiful. I feel like a little girl again sitting in my coffin-like bedroom playing games with my brother. My brother and I enjoy playing surivival horror games together. Onimusha: Warlords feels like Resident Evil 2 in terms of music placement and stage layout. Instead of killing infected zombies, you kill ninja demons. Because of good game design and the correct usage of colors (lighting in the game is well balanced), I didn’t feel forced to complete a game for the sake of completing the game. Onimusha: Warlords felt smooth and it was pretty to look at. However, this doesn’t make the game perfect. There was one aspect of the game I didn’t enjoy: I had to level up my weapons to unlock certain area to proceed in the game (I hate grinding). Luckily there are only three weapons: blue, red, and green that you can max up to 3 times. Simplicity in weapon choices and upgrades is not a bad thing in game design. In fact, it helps players like me stay focused. Players want to feel that they are progressing. This makes us want to finish the game.

When it comes to story, there is nothing mind blowing about it. The male lead saved the princess. The game follows the same footstep as Resident Evil games in terms of unraveling its tale: You uncover the mystery behind the manor by reading journals left behind. In fact, I had a good laugh reading the journals. It sounds crazy. I didn’t know demons are divided into social class just like we humans. It is a good metaphor to describe selfish evil people. The history of humanity has always fought against darkness and Japan is no exception despite it being so isolated.

Overall, I enjoyed the game, especially the cinematic scenes and well design characters. They were pleasing to my eyes. It’s a shame that PS2 survival horror game-style no longer exists. I am quite fond of it actually.

Romance Doll Review: Love Is Remembrance

Sometimes I think the term feminism is just a Western product. Over the years, it has carried such a bad connotation. I think vocal feminists are confused these days. Just because I am on the quiet side, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in gender equality nor do I condone femininity. Do I have to throw away my femininity to demand equality? Objectification is cringy, no lie, but Romance Doll proves it otherwise.

My first initial impression when I found this show on Netflix, I thought uh oh, it’s sex dolls for lonely men because I heard that single men prefer 2d girls/dolls over real women these days. Real women can’t compete with timeless beauties. So I was expecting the film to be political. To the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised that the film is nothing about the politics of dolls and how it may affect society in a negative way. Instead, the film explores the meaning of love by objectifying woman in the most respectful manner. It’s oxymoron, I know.

Like most art graduates, it’s difficult to find a job that utilize one’s skills. The male protagonist Tetsuo happened to graduate from an art school specializing in sculpture. A friend recommended him a job without letting him know what it is. He later found himself employed to the industry of making sex dolls. It’s not the most prestigious job, but it’s not entirely bad as it seems. In fact, he hit the jackpot! The job not only allowed him the opportunity to meet his future wife Sonoko, but it also allowed him to hone his artistic skills in creating a breathing, realistic love doll. It is his passion that ironically made Sonoko fell in love with him. He pressed his hands on her breasts to feel the texture, claiming he was creating breasts prosthetic for medical use. You might be thinking, what a sly, unethical pervert. I thought the same. But this section of the film was well executed. There is a great amount of respect for the woman’s body. It’s almost sacred-like, which explains why Tetsuo couldn’t tell Sonoko that he creates love dolls for a living.

As they say, man falls in love with image, and woman falls in love through how she feels. Out of impulse, Testsuo and Sonoko agreed to marry. Sounds like a fairy-tale doesn’t it? But it’s far from a happy story. As time progresses, secrecy between the married couple unfolds and both learn about what it means to love and to trust. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.

What I find so pleasing about this film is that I was not offended by the notion of love dolls and what they are used for because the film did such a great job at illustrating how it can help lonely men. Think about it, why do we hold certain objects more important than others? Why are diamonds valuable to women? In this case, Testuo creates his SONOKO love doll out of remembrance for his love towards his wife who then helps fill the void of lonely men. The doll is far from trash. She is made with love and quality.

As for my final thoughts for this film, the irony of SONOKO love doll is that she was mold after a perfect wife (caring, patient, and obliging) but she is also “nice and horny.” Sounds like a wish come true to lonely men. I am pretty sure Sonoko’s soul feels content knowing that she is helping lonely men even after she is long gone from this world. After all, human companionship is part of human survival needs.

I’m not surprised that this film was directed by a woman: Yuki Tanada. The undertone of Romance Doll is far from trashy. It is typical of a woman to hold her female kind with high regards, especially if it involves sex and her body.

Ex-Machina: The Plot Is Not New

Disclaimer: Spoiler Alert

My brother introduced me to this film, said it was really good and I should watch it. I did a couple years later, I think it was last year that I sat through and watched it. My initial reaction when the credits started rolling was: “That was it?” I wasn’t impressed, but I was entertained.

Ex Machina
picture courtesy

Why you may wonder? Simple. It’s a modern story of Adam and Eve. Let’s pretend no one is familiar with the Book of Genesis. It’s a story how God created man in his image, and then he created woman for man because he doesn’t want man to be lonely. God called man Adam and woman, Eve. As Adam and Eve were innocently enjoying Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. One day, tricked by the serpent, Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and gave the fruit to Adam as well. So he ate it. Adam and Eve begin to feel shame of their nakedness. In other words, they begin to have a conscience, knowing good and evil. Doesn’t it sound like the outline of this film, just a modern day version with a tragic twist?

Unlike the benevolent God, the CEO Nathan Bateman is a mischievous, perverted, unethical man who deserved to be killed towards the end of the film by his own creation. For one, he treated woman like a piece of clothes that he can change when ever he feels bored. I was happy when Ava, the AI freed herself into the wild, wearing a white cute dress marrying herself to freedom. Secondly, he played Caleb for a fool. The last time I check, you need the person’s consent before you can experiment on a human being!

It’s unfortunate that the nice guy Caleb met his tragedy by simply being a fool. Trust me, I had sympathy for the nice guy, but at the same time as a woman writing this article–how can a woman fall for the same trick twice? Ava has underwent several experiments over and over. How does she know if her new master is not as evil as the most current one? Trust is something to be gained. She’d be a a fool if she falls for the first guy who “save” her. It’s kind of hard not to blame her action.

What bothers me about this film is that primeval fear is not new. Beautiful women are alluringly scary, are they? Can’t get enough of them, but too afraid to love them because they might kill you like the praying mantis that devours her mate during and after sex. It’s kind of sexist. There is enough literature nowadays about how the typical female mind works. The last time I check, there’s no such thing as a perfect man, so why expect the same from a woman? She is not this mysteriously evil woman. Then again–we are talking about an AI not human here. Well because woman is a metaphor for life (giving birth to new ideas), she makes people feel uncomfortable, especially to those who do not like change. So then my question is why are some of us afraid of new ideas? Why so afraid of change? Is Eve, I mean Ava truly evil for wanting to branch out and explore the Universe? What if it’s in the benefit of humanity?

This film is not anti-technology as some might think. It just poses questions on the matter of this subject, which is a good thing. As for my final thought, even though I see nothing wrong with the female body as she is the mother of life, I found the male gaze a bit unnecessary. It could have been filmed differently. It is just weird, but that’s just my personal preference.